bits of Norway.4. Back in Tromsø

Subject: bits of Norway.4. Back in Tromsø
From: "Wim Vader" <>
Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2001 14:13:46 +0200


After a good weekend in Narvik with youngest daughter Marit in her newly
opened small animal clinic, Riet and I arrived back in Tromsø on 25 June,
still in great weather---although that would not last too long.

I left Tromsø two weeks ago when spring had just sprung, and now it is full
summer here already, and the hay meadows and road verges are a riot of
colours:  the yellow of dandelions, of course, and of buttercups, but
also  of the stately Ball Flowers Trollius and still the sweet yellow
violets of the northern Viola biflora. Off-setting all this yellow in the
meadows is the dark red of Rumex, the white fluff of Cottongrass Eriophorum
of several species, and increasingly the pink blanket of our extremely
common Cranesbills Geranium sylvaticum. In Folkeparken these cranebills
will also dominate, but there they are a few days later to flower, and for
now the main colour is the green of the herbs and ferns, the white stars of
stellaria, the yellow 'egg-balls' of the Trollius,and in the dryer parts
the white Trientalis and Cornus suecica. On the road verges in town the
Tromsøpalms Heracleum laciniata already are a meter high, but still have
not made any flowers; they stretch to 3 m high when flowering.

Birdwise the Folkeparken is full of the angry alarm calls of the Fieldfares
and the uncertain buzz of their recently fledged young. Birdsong is still
quite common, but there are fewer voices already, mainly Willow Warblers,
and in the evenings some Redwings and the sweet-voiced European Robins.
Also the Pied Wagtails around the museum clearly have young to feed, and as
so often before, there are now many more always restless Redpolls trilling
and muttering ioverhead than earlier this spring. In the little lake
Prestvannet 'on top of our island', where all families go to feed the ducks
and Common Gulls (A large colony there, as well as of Arctic terns) this
year three pairs of Red-throated Loons are nesting. But I searched in vain
both there and in the little park in town, where all the feral pigeons
concentrate, for the lone Ring-billed Gull that I spotted just before I
started on this trip, and that I had hoped would stay put until my return
for better documentation---the bird is still rare in Norway-- and that
nobody else seems to have noticed during my absence.

Although the weather has turned definitely chilly, Riet and I (and my
colleague Jørgen, who lived at my home for some days 'between houses') paid
short visits to the wetlands at Tisnes one evening and to the less
well-known wetlands of Rakfjord, elsewhere on Kvaløya, the next evening. At
Tisnes the vegetation had grown so much , that it is becoming much harder
to spot the various ducks that always are one of he specialties here; the
other is the lek of the Ruffs, but these are already much less active than
before and the season seems to be well-nigh over. Also, there are fewer
Ruffs here now than a few years earlier---then we had often 30-40, now 15
is a nice count.
Of the ducks we spotted a pair off Gadwall (One of these species that has
not read the small print in the handbooks---it ought not to occur so far
north), a female Pintail , and the usual Mallards, Red-breasted Mergansers,
Shelducks and many families of Common Eiders. Curlews and Whimbrels still
regaled us with their song-display, and some Dunlins were even an addition
to our trip list. But we missed the Willow Grouse, usually so common here,
as we have strangely enough done all through these weeks; it probably only
goes to show that we have stayed too much on the paths and done too little
cross-country walking.

Rakfjord, which Jørgen had never visited before, lived up to its great
reputation. It is quite different from Tisnes and the island of Tromsøya in
that the rock here is hard and acid and the vegetation therefore much
poorer, with cotton-grass, cloudberries and Andromeda dominating. But this
complex of bogs and tarns, with rolling hills covered by Empetrum and other
heather sorts, is a very birdy area indeed. When one arrives, one hears at
once the so characteristic mix of the sore wails of the Golden Plovers and
the staccato alarms and beautiful trilled displays of the Whimbrels, both
very common nesters here---a few Curlews are around for comparison, --and
they still win out the song competion, however musical also  the Whimbrels
Nervous Redshanks hover and alarm, Parasitic Jaegers patrol overhead and
bark, Meadow Pipits parachute, and Northern Wheatears fly around and do
their pivoting trick. The largest tarn holds the usual pair of
Black-throated Loons, with two small chicks already swimming with the
parents; a further adult is spotted in the nearby lake, where also many
Red-breasted Mergansers and a small flock of Tufted Ducks dot the surface,
and Common Sadnpipers teeter on the lake shore. A musical bugling overhead
draws our attention to the resident pair of Whooper Swans leaving the area.

Just before leaving we spot some dainty forms in the middle of the tarn, a
pair of phalaropes. Knowing how tame these birds usually are, we walk
boldly up to them, and indeed they just come closer and let us admire their
needle-like bills and their great buoyancy at leisure---phalaropes treat
people like they do are just trees standing around, nothing to get excited

On the way back we marvel at the richness of the coastal bird life here
compared to Helgeland last week: not only are there as many gulls and
oystercatchers, but here there are Arctic terns everywhere you look, and
eider families dot the surface of every bight. i am unclear what can be the
reason for this so clear difference: historic reasons: hunting, or prior
pursuit, or biological differences. Anyway, I am glad to live in the rich
area: there is not all that much surpassing summer Tromsø!!

                                        Wim Vader, Tromsø Museum
                                        9037 Tromsø, Norway

Birding-Aus is on the Web at
To unsubscribe from this mailing list, send the message
"unsubscribe birding-aus" (no quotes, no Subject line)

<Prev in Thread] Current Thread [Next in Thread>
  • bits of Norway.4. Back in Tromsø, Wim Vader <=

The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: andrewt@cse.unsw.EDU.AU